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British Sympathy for the South during the American Civil War and Reconstruction

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A Religious Perspective

image of Church History and Religious Culture

This article focuses on some of the religious factors that shaped the pro-Southern lobby in Britain during the American Civil War and Reconstruction. British opinion cannot be explained only in terms of class and party. In exploring other determinants, the ideas and activities of wealthy High Churchman and Conservative politician Beresford Hope offer promising avenues of inquiry, for Hope saw in the American Union, and Southern secession, a religious dimension, represented most clearly in the Episcopal Church. To the more familiar (to historians) reasons why the South gained support in Britain—relating to economic and political interests—Hope added a deeper commitment arising from a sense of cultural affinity (the “Englishness” of the South) and from religious conviction (to him the Church, and indeed Christianity, seemed stronger in the South than in the North). This indicates a belief that Britain and the South were bound together by common Christian civilization.

Affiliations: 1: History Department, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC, USA


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